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Shining a Light on Solar Energy Programs

This is the beauty of solar energy: The amount we use now will never reduce the amount we can take in the future. In fact, according to Solarbuzz, an international solar energy research and consulting company, the earth receives more energy from the sun in just one hour than the world uses in a whole year.

Naturally, solar technology can make a critical difference in the fight against climate change. To harness the power of the sun, solar sales representatives must convince legislators, corporate executives, and consumers that renewable solar energy is a wise investment in our future. And solar technicians must perform the actual photovoltaic (PV) installations to replace our current global grid-tied electricity.

So what does it take to forge a path in the solar industry? Solar sales representatives must be fluent in business but also comfortable with solar technology and equipment. Solar technicians should be fluent in the technology but also understand business economics and marketing. Solar energy courses provide the training needed to launch a solar energy career on either side of the industry.

Solar Energy Courses
Solar energy courses can be divided into installation-related and non-installation-related courses. The majority of solar energy courses are targeted toward solar installation skills and solar design, but some are focused on solar sales training or starting your own solar business.

Solar energy programs help you understand the fundamentals of the solar industry, including technology basics, the industry ecosystem (size, scope, and value chain), policy drivers, regulatory barriers, and project economics.

Solar energy courses are offered on several levels, from one-day, consumer-level courses all the way up to six-week, hands-on, installer-focused courses. Some private training providers offer intensive courses that last as few as five days; solar energy courses through community colleges and nonprofit organizations may take longer but cost less.

Solar Accreditation, Certificates, and Certification
Solar energy programs may be accredited by the Institute for Sustainable Power Quality (ISPQ), which is managed by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council in North America. You might also want to find solar energy programs that provide training for the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) PV Entry-Level Exam. Earning this entry-level certificate demonstrates that you have achieved a basic knowledge of the fundamental principles of the application, design, installation, and operation of grid-tied and stand-alone PV systems. There are currently 180 registered providers of the NABCEP PV Entry-Level Exam.

With experience, you may wish to pursue NABCEP PV or Solar Thermal Installer certification, which demonstrates your knowledge of the electrical codes, standards, and accepted industry practices associated with PV installations as well as your ability to supervise complete PV system installations. Certificants at this level often bear the title of contractor, foreman, supervisor, or journeyman.

Learn more about the growing solar industry, and get fired up for a lifelong solar energy career.